When your water heater leaks, the consequences are often severe. If your heater leaks for an extended period, the water can damage the floor, walls, basement, and your possessions. Most homeowners try to repair leaks fast before they cause any damage but fail to know how the leaks occur, where they come from, and how to solve them. Fortunately, if you have a water heater that leaks from the top, you shouldn’t worry. This leak is repairable, and you don’t have to replace your water heater. However, failure to repair this type of leak can result in serious issues that can be costly.
Finding the Source
If you think your water heater is leaking, switch off its power. Most homes and apartments feature circuit breakers that turn the water heater on and off. Some heaters come with an in-built secondary shut-off that allows you to switch it off. After switching the water heater off, do not turn on the inlet until you find the leak. If you can’t find the leak, run your hand over the fittings and pipes. And if you still can’t find the leak, wrap the joints and pipes with tissue paper. Be careful if there are damp spots, though.
Leaking Inlet Valve
The duty of the cold water inlet valve is to bring and turn off the cold water from the primary water line. Water flows through the valve when the pipe is parallel to the valve’s handle and closes when the handle pokes out. Since the valve rests at the top of the heater, it can fail, forcing water to flow through. Sometimes the pipe fitting might become loose, resulting in water leakage. If water leaks because of a loose pipe fitting, tighten the lug nut with a wrench to solve the problem. However, if you have a leaking valve caused by an old or damaged pipe fitting, contact a certified plumber to solve the problem.
Leaking Temperature Pressure Relief
At the top of the water heater is a temperature and pressure relief valve. The valve controls the temperature and pressure of the heater and opens when the water level or pressure rises, releasing the hot water. This lowers the pressure of the tank. A functioning temperature pressure valve drips a little at the bottom.
However, if it leaks from the top, it’s a sign of a faulty valve, and you must replace it as soon as possible. The temperature and pressure valve is a critical component in keeping your heater safe; therefore, you should never operate a water heater if it has a non-functioning valve. Using a water heater when you have a faulty valve can result in a water heater explosion.
Leaking Inlet and Outlet Connections
If the valves are not the root of the leaking problem, the issue might be from a stripped threaded nipple or loose connection. Hot water leaves the heater in an outlet connection while cold water enters the heater in an inlet. Over time, these connections can loosen, causing leaks. To remedy this problem, you should enlist the services of an experienced and factory-trained expert to conduct the repairs. This is especially true if your water heater tank uses copper tubing in place of threaded pipe. To simplify future repairs, you should also think of re-plumbing the tank using water-rated PVC or threaded pipe.
Leaking Expansion Tank
If your heater has a small expansion tank, it might be the source of the leak. The expansion tank is a safety component that holds excess water and reduces pressure in the water tank when it expands. Over time, this expansion tank begins to leak because of wear and tear. Failure to solve this issue can result in severe damages that can be costly. When you detect this problem, identify the origin of the leak. If water is leaking from pipes, tighten the lines in the expansion tank and look out for changes. If there’s no change and you still have a water heater leak, contact a professional.
Corroded Anode Rod
The anode rod is a thin and long rod inside the heater that protects your unit from corrosion. This component stops the water heater tank from wearing out because of corrosive materials that might accumulate in the tank. Also known as a sacrificial anode rod, this component works by eating the corrosive materials that might affect the tank. Unfortunately, since the anode rod attracts corrosive materials, it also erodes over time. Thus, failure to maintain and replace the anode can damage the water heater, leading to water leakage. If the anode is the culprit, contact a plumber to replace it with a new rod. Failure to do so will force the water heater to erode, resulting in costly repairs or the need for a complete heater replacement.
Hole at the Top
Corrosion is an issue that most water heaters face, especially if you neglect to replace the anode or you neglect to service your heater. Your heater can rust at the top or inside at the anode rod. This corrosion can create a hole at the top, which can cause water leakage. If you find corrosion or rust at the top of your heater, you will need to replace it. Set up regular maintenance visits and replace the anode rod when needed to avoid such costly repairs.
What Are the Dangers of a Leaking Heater?
A leaking heater can be fatal and dangerous to your safety. It can cause problems like costly repairs, property damage, and inconveniences. When water heats inside a water heater tank, the pressure builds up, sometimes to dangerous levels. When this happens, the tank automatically shuts itself off. Sometimes, the temperature pressure valve might reduce the pressure. If the pressure valve doesn’t reduce the pressure, you might experience flooding, rupture, or a water heater explosion.
If the leaking results in deformation, it can lead to electrocution or a fire. Thus, you should always act fast when you notice or suspect a leak. If the leak continues after you attempt a DIY repair, seek the services of a professional and experienced plumber.
How to Protect Your Water Heater From Leaking From the Top
Protecting your unit from leaking is among the best ways of avoiding costly repairs and safeguarding your home. Most people can hide their water heaters in utility closets, garages, and basements, making it challenging to notice signs of leaking. Because of this, it’s always crucial that you contact a professional to tune up and inspect your water heater regularly.
Annual maintenance visits can help detect early leaking signs. They can also prevent leaks and breakdowns that can be costly. Moreover, you can invest in a leak detector and place it below the water heater to alert you when your heater starts to leak.
Contact a Professional
If your heater is leaking, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Fusion Plumbing & Air is a trusted local company in Tucson that strives to offer high-quality services. We also provide safety and plumbing inspection services to examine your water heater and provide a water heater flush. Regardless of the plumbing services you need, whether water heater replacement or water heater repair, we have your back. We provide heating, cooling, plumbing, drain, and sewer services as well. Contact us to set up an appointment.